Interactive simulations and hands-on displays personalize climate change in a new exhibit debuting March 2 at the Worcester EcoTarium

Special opening day program to bring visitors ‘behind-the-scenes’

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., February 22, 2010 — A new exhibit using hands-on displays and interactive simulations to engage visitors in better understanding climate change – including how individual users’ decisions impact the globe – is slated to debut on Tuesday, March 2 at the EcoTarium in Worcester.

Seasons of Change, Global Warming in Your Backyard, on exhibit through mid-June 2010, will provide visitors with real-life scenarios that explore the relationships between growing concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, rising temperatures on earth, and changes to the world’s climate.

The exhibit is a collaborative effort between Brown University, MIT, the MIT Sloan School of Management, the New England Science Center Collaborative, the Sustainability Institute, and the Environmental Defense Fund.

The interactive simulations run on a touch-sensitive, electronic tabletop that changes as visitors place and manipulate objects representing energy demands and uses on a map of the world. As players make decisions between energy demands and uses, the simulation program projects the effects of their decisions into the year 2075 and triggers “news clips from the future”. Players can then collaborate or compete as they control a large, highly graphic global climate model to generate different outcomes. The simulations run on a climate model that was developed by the renowned MIT System Dynamics Group and MIT Media Lab. To view the interactive simulations in action, please visit: http://www.tactable.com/Video4Web/MapOfTheFuture-Design.mov

The hands-on displays focus on the changes to New England’s seasons and landscapes that people are already noticing – shorter winters, earlier springs, more summer heat waves, and less vibrant fall foliages. Through the personal stories of a lobster fisherman and a maple sugar producer, the exhibit demonstrates how real people may be affected if climate change issues are not properly addressed.

A special opening day program on March 2 from 10:30 a.m. - 2 p.m. will take visitors behind the scenes. Along with a luncheon, the program includes:

  • A panel presentation on the thinking behind the exhibit with Steven Hamburg, director of Sustainable Technologies, Environmental Defense Fund; Alexander Goldowsky, director of Programs & Exhibits at the EcoTarium; Marjorie Prager, exhibit developer/project manager, Jeff Kennedy Associates; and Tinsley Galyean, MIT Media Lab;
  • A walk-thru with opportunities to talk with the panelists and the exhibit’s science consultant and videographer; and
  • A group discussion on how to best use the exhibit for programming.

"When it comes to climate change, it's hard to connect our choices to their consequences because of the long time delays between changes in our actions and policies and their impact,” says John Sterman, a professor at MIT Sloan School of Management who spearheaded the creation of the interactive simulations. “ By combining computer simulation models with great technology and design, exhibits such as this make it possible for people to experience how our energy and environmental choices will affect the world we will leave for our children in a way that's solidly grounded in the best scientific knowledge and at the same time a dynamic, fun way to learn."

Attendance will be limited to the first 100 registrants. To register, please visit: www.cleanair-coolplanet.org/backpack06/registration.php#register_now

For directions, please go to: http://www.ecotarium.org/visitor/directions.html

For Media Inquiries

Paul Denning
Director of Media Relations
Tel: 617-253-0576
Fax: 617-253-5875
E-mail: denning@mit.edu

Patricia Favreau
Associate Director of Media Relations
Tel: 617-253-3492
Fax: 617-253-5875
E-mail: pfavreau@mit.edu